Fairfax County Public Schools, Virginia’s largest school system, unveiled a plan for providing more support for students through mental health services this school year.
During Thursday night’s school board meeting, Superintendent Michelle Reid said the district is working to secure a “telemental health group” that will provide short-term, evidence-based counseling sessions with therapists for high school students.
The move is in response to ongoing requests for more support across the school district. As part of the $3.3 billion budget, school board officials allocated $500,000 for the telemental health services.
“This is a critical issue facing public education and we continue to prioritize professional development that builds that staff capacity to support and respond to students,” Reid said.
The district also plans to implement a strategy to support substance abuse prevention in all schools while expanding the student club Our Minds Matter, which focuses on improving mental health. The program is in 23 high schools and four middle schools as a pilot program.
The school system will improve family outreach and implement an attendance campaign to keep kids in school.
“I would just encourage us to keep our focus on this topic,” Reid said.
The details, outlined in the district’s Opening of Schools report, focus on progress made so far this school year and next steps when it comes to how the Fairfax County school system plans to improve.